Escape Your Fear of Food - Learn to Eat Without Guilt
I'm in a love/hate relationship with food right now. I love it for all the obvious reasons: It's delicious, it's nutritious and it always makes me feel better. I also hate it for the ONE obvious reason: It makes me fat.
I didn't have this problem with food before. I used to eat to my heart's desire without stopping to think if the extra calories would add building bricks to the love handles. I had an excellent metabolism, and even though I ate like a pig I was still as slim as a noodle. All that changed after I got married. For some reasons, I started gaining pounds, and thus my love/hate relationship with food.
Most girls I know have this same kind of relationship with food. We can't take a bite without thinking what it will do to our figure. We can't relax while eating and many of us end up with bloated stomachs because of all the stress this is causing us.
But enough is enough! I'm tired of this constant cycle of eating, loving it, feeling guilty, feeling fat, crying, giving up, and eating again. If you're familiar with this cycle, you might benefit from some these tips that will help you eat without guilt while mending your relationship with food.
Trained to have a bad relationship with food??
When we were babies, we cried and in went the pacifier. Now we cry, and in goes the ice cream.
We learn to see food as a reward from a very young age: "If you behave, I'll give you ice cream."
We grow up knowing that we must finish the food on our plates because there are kids in Africa that are starving.
It's no wonder there are so many people with bad food relationships. It's time to see food as grown ups...
How your relationship with food affects you
The way you view food has a great impact in your mental as well as physical health. Being in a love/hate relationship with food can cause stress, anxiety and frustration. It can also make you more susceptible to developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and we all know the chaos those can wreck.
Think about how easy it could be for a person who is obsessed about weight gain to decide to start eating meals that are so small that they will fail to provide the necessary nutrients. This is a slippery slope that can easily lead to anorexia.
Bulimia is also a sad reality that is not far away from those with an unhealthy relationship with food. Many of us - myself included - have at one point thought about throwing up all the food we just ate because we feel guilty we just ate it. People with bulimia do the same thing; they try to rid their bodies of the food they just ate in different ways: vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics, and/or excessive exercise.
It’s time to stop! If you know your relationship with food could be better, then it’s time to improve it before we’re too deep down the hole.
Eating disorders affect women 10 times more often than men. Don't worry about being fat, worry about being healthy.
Tip # 1: Stop counting calories
I bought a watch some time ago that would help me keep track of all the calories I consumed as well as the calories I burned. I would obsessively check my watch towards the end of the day and, if the calories I had consumed were higher than the ones I burned, I would engage in any kind of physical activity to at least break even. Needless to say, this was stressing me out like you have no idea.
Thankfully, my wrist developed an allergic reaction to this watch, so I had to stop wearing it, and the freedom I now feel is wonderful.
Instead of counting calories, learn to listen to your body. Eat until you are satisfied. Satisfied doesn’t mean stuffed. Satisfied means that you will stop eating as soon as you don’t feel hungry, as soon as you start feeling more alert and energized. There’s a fine line between satisfied and stuffed. If you miss it you will stuff yourself and you will start feeling sluggish, sleepy and bloated.
Keep in mind that it takes approximately 20 minutes for satiety signal to reach your brain, so if you’re eating fast or if you’re distracted while eating, you might miss those signals and you will over eat.
Tip # 2: Don’t go too long without eating
Those of us with a love/hate food relationship tend to go long hours without eating because we wrongly believe that starving ourselves is a sign of weight loss. Oh how wrong we are!!
Starving yourself will just cause you to eat more, which will make you feel guilty and bad about yourself. Avoid this pitfall by eating a healthy snack every 3 hours. Don’t allow yourself to go hungry, because hunger can be your worst enemy when you’re trying to mend you relationship with food.
I like to carry around in my purse apple slices, small oranges or tangerines, or any other fruit or vegetable. Multigrain crackers are awesome for calming those cravings that you get in the middle of the day.
Tip # 3: Don’t follow restrictive diets
I’ve heard all kinds of weird - and nasty - diets. The worst one yet is the onion water one. Have you heard of it? You’re supposed to eat nothing but the resulting water of boiling an onion. I’ve never tried it and I never will, but my friend did. She tried it for a week and she went from being decent human being to Oscar the Grouch, smell included.
There are tons of fad, restrictive diets out there. Don’t fall for that trap. Yes, sure, you will lose weight, but that’s only because you’re not eating. And that’ s not healthy for your physical or your emotional health. Plus, this means you will be starving yourself, and you will make up for lost time as soon as you’re off the diet.
Tip # 4: Eat that donut!
We all have our favorite foods that we know we shouldn’t eat. Mine are donuts. I love donuts! I love the smell, the taste, the texture...HMMMM! Donuts! But I digressed...
The point is that you shouldn’t think donuts (or your favorite guilty food) are completely off the menu. This will just make you ***crave*** them even more. You will fantasize about them at night and your husband will become jealous because you seem to be more attracted to a piece dough than to him.
I’m not saying that you should eat donuts every day. I’m saying you should reward yourself every now and then by eating ONE (yes, I mean one) donut. This will give you the mental freedom to know that you’re not in any kind of prison. NO, you have the choice of eating a donut, but you’re making choices by eating them only in special occasions.
Tip # 5: Don’t beat yourself up
Okay, so you ate more than one donut. Live with it. Enjoy the pleasure it gave you at the time, and continue with your life. Don’t dwell on this one mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and you’re not perfect. Live and learn!
But please, don’t beat yourself up over it. How many would put up with a boyfriend that calls us names after we made a mistake? You would just dump him faster than spoiled milk. You simply wouldn’t put up with it. So why are you being that abusive to yourself? Dump that ugly inner voice that bullies you around and learn from your mistakes.
It’s not what you eat, but why you eat
If you’re still having trouble mending your relationship with food, stop and think why you eat instead of what you’re eating.
- Are you eating because you’re sad or depressed?
- Are you eating because you feel the need to have something in your mouth?
- When are you most likely to binge on food?
- When are you most likely to think about giving up on eating or about throwing up when you eat?
Find the patterns and triggers that weaken you. Most of the time, there will be an underlying emotional problem that is causing you to use food as medication. Tell your doctor about it. Talk to your close friends about it. Seek professional help. Do something. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself.
Love yourself, love your body and happy living!